• Mexico
    • Isla Mujeres
2 to 44 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Spring Break Summer Winter Year Round
Apartment Host Family Hostel Hotel


Starting Price
Price Details
Teacher Training
2 weeks: $700 usd *
3 weeks: $1,050 usd *

TEFL Certification Program
4 weeks: $1,500 usd
Additional weeks: $250 usd each

GAP Year Program
5-month program: $7,211 usd
10-month program: $11,1134 usd
6-month Scholarship: ALL FEES WAIVED. Qualifications: Bachelor's degree, upper-intermediate Spanish level, experience with children, 6-month commitment.

*2 and 3 week program volunteers receive an accreditation certificate for teaching hours earned. The TEFL Certification requires a minimum of the 4 week program.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare SIM cards Travel Insurance Visa
Oct 03, 2018
Jan 13, 2017
19 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

VolunQuest is proud to be the only private organization that allows volunteers to participate as teachers in the public school systems in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Our volunteer teachers teach the national English curriculum to students during regular school hours, and work alongside the full time teachers of Isla Mujeres. We offer a 2-3 week Teacher Training, a 4-week TEFL certification program or a 5-month and 10-month TEFL Gap Year program.

All of our volunteers go through an orientation, professional teacher training, have continuous supervision, are given access to materials and resources, as well as are provided with a teaching certification from the Secretary of Education, accredited by the Mexican Ministry of Education. This is a unique opportunity for volunteers to gain invaluable experience and references, all while seeing that they are committing themselves to a project that is truly sustainable and making a real difference in the community.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • A Teaching Certificate through the Mexican Ministry of Education (4 week program minimum) or Accreditation certificate for teaching hours earned (2 or 3 week program)
  • Full immersion into the local community
  • Collaborative lesson planning and material creation
  • Access to office materials which include school supplies, a printer/copy machine, printer paper, teaching materials, etc.
  • A letter of recommendation upon successful completion of the program

Program Impact

Our goal is to provide an exemplary teacher training experience abroad that mutually enriches the local community and the lives of our program participants. We accomplish this by fulfilling the need for English teachers in the public primary schools of Isla Mujeres with aspiring teachers looking to gain valuable experience and an unrivaled TEFL teacher certification abroad. For the children in this popular tourist destination, learning English is a necessity, not a luxury. Our students need to learn English in order to become successful members of their economy and society.

Program Reviews

4.43 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • 5 rating 85.71%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 14.29%
  • Impact 4.6
  • Support 4.25
  • Fun 4.45
  • Value 4.25
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 14 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in ISla

I went to Isla as part of a class, having not traveled outside the US much before and it was an amazing experience. I got to teach English in a classroom as a head teacher while also having the vacation of a lifetime. The island is a great vacation location and so after teaching in the morning then lesson planning for a couple hours the rest of the day was up to me to do what I wanted. The beaches are amazing and so I would love to just go to the beach after class. Then there were tons of options for dinner and a great nightlife. For the actual teaching, the kids seem interested and I was teaching at a preschool and playing games with the kids while teaching really set me up for activities I will do in my future career. I would recommend this to anyone who loves teaching!

98 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience Ever!

Throughout my time at Volunquest, I received the best experience of my life! I made great friends and contributed so much to the surrounding community. Before traveling to the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres, I had zero teaching experience. Throughout the program, I impacted the lives of over 800 students by teaching them everyday and am now certified to teach ESL anywhere in the world. One of the great things about the program is truly seeing the impact made every day in your students. The people of this very small island depend on the program for English in tourism, as tourism is the driving force of the economy on the island. Not only did I feel great about giving back to the community, but I got to experience so much of the Mexican culture and improve my Spanish. Additionally, the program allows for plenty of free time to explore the Yucatan as there are many three day weekends and holidays during the school year. Another thing unique to this program is that I got to teach multiple grades, teaching 1st-6th grade. This program is great because it is mutually beneficial for the students as well as the intern.

92 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Live and teach English on a Caribbean Island in Mexico

Working with VolunQuest has been an incredible, eye-opening experience which I believe I have gained so much from.

Living within the local community of Isla Mujeres, teaching English to the children in the public schools on the island, making new lifelong friends and enjoying the benefits of this beautiful island has been everything I could have hoped for and expected it to be.

VolunQuest benefits almost 2,000 children on Isla Mujeres by providing free English lessons. And the children really do appreciate your presence… the feeling when walking down the street, into your school, around a shop or anywhere else on the island and hearing the word ‘Teacher!’ whilst being greeted with a running hug from one of your students, really is one that fills you with a sense of pride.

When I was looking for an opportunity to work abroad and teach English, I loved the look of this one and am now so glad that I found it. I have not only adored working with the children and teaching them English, but I have also loved learning about myself, learning about different cultures, improving my Spanish and have completely fallen for this little island paradise.

One of the goals of the programme is “to provide an exemplary full-immersion experience abroad that mutually enriches the local community and the lives of our program participants.” And I believe that this goal is definitely met. The interns not only work together, but live together in a house provided by the government within the local community, with friendly neighbours and only a short, cheap taxi ride to anywhere you’ll need to go. I have learnt to live simply and with less than we do back at home. I feel like I have truly learnt so much, benefited from this wonderful experience and given so much back to the children and community, making a difference and would love to stay on for longer to see this programme evolve even more.

97 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the BEST volunteer experiences out there!!!

I've done a lot of volunteer work in Central America, but VolunQuest is one that has trained me to be the best global citizen. We live and work directly with the community of a small island in the Mexican Caribbean. Part of living abroad is branching out and becoming independent. VolunQuest allows you to grow as a teacher, a co-worker and an individual.
Life on a 5 mile long, ½ mile wide island called Isla Mujeres is more fulfilling than anything I've experienced before. It is about a 30 minute ferry ride from Cancun, México and is everything that an island should be; tranquilo (relaxed), gorgeous, great weather, white sand beaches, sea turtles and even the coolest ever whale sharks. But, my take on island life is a bit more detailed than what your normal Joe Shmoe would come up with. I come from a itty bitty all women’s university that only has about 600 students, 100 faculty and about 50 horses. I am used to small communities and I have learned throughout my 4 years of college to notice every detail and make use of everything a small, close knit community has to offer.
Most people think of the tourism that Isla Mujeres has to offer, the beautiful beaches, tasty margaritas and an exotic paradise to escape your reality at home. To me, Isla Mujeres is an island FILLED with incredible Mayan history, interesting people, delicious food, the best music and a relaxed way of life. But most of all, the anthropology geek in me loves this island for it’s unique culture. I came here to indulge myself into a new way of life, to give into making a difference in the community and to the community making a difference in me. Living on a tiny island isn’t all beaches, bikinis and margaritas. I believe in the work hard, play hard motto here on the island. Yes, we do have access to the beaches and pools, drinks and fun times, however we work hard every day of the week and after hours.
Not only am I speaking on the volunteer teachers behalf, but mainly for the locals. Our neighbors, our student’s parents and even some of the students are the ones working in the hotels, the beach clubs, and the bars that tourists enjoy. The locals are the ones who work to make this island the exotic escape that it is to the tourists. Living the island life is more than an extended vacation at the beach. To me, it is about living like a local, learning their way of life and how to work hard for the better of the whole community.
Living like a local is about guessing what animal made the mystery poop on your porch. It’s about not needing to set an alarm because the Zeta Gas truck comes through the neighborhood around 7AM every morning. It’s about living with 3 strangers, hoping our internet will work for movie night and trying to figure out how to do laundry by hand. It’s about language barriers, Spanish and British! Haha. Living like a local is NEVER being on time because who knows what is slowing you down, your golf cart with a flat tire or an iguana crossing the road. It’s about getting to know your neighbors, like the tamale lady who also sells fruit at the market in the AM. It’s about learning how to make-it-work. Living like a local is a quest. It’s the quest of volunteering abroad, the quest of a new life and a new culture. It’s about making your community a better place, one wave and a “Buenos días” at a time.
Teaching abroad isn't just an inside the classroom job. It isn't just moving to another country to have fun. It isn't just "teaching English". It's changing lives. It's being a role model to these students. It's being that building block for them to be something more in their futures. It's being a new friend. VolunQuest benefits over 2,000 students on this tiny island. I have 400 students, I see them everywhere. The smile on their face when they run up and tackle me with a hug is the greatest appreciation you can receive.
Every time I travel somewhere, the saying always proves true, “time flies when you’re having fun.” A friend on facebook recently commented on a picture of mine saying, “You look so happy in every picture you post!” And I truly am. Living in Mexico has exceeded any expectation I had. I highly recommend this experience to anyone who loves children, Central America, the beach, tacos, adventures and changing lives <3

87 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Take caution. This organization needs to be investigated.

I wish I could give this program zero stars. Take caution in applying to volunteer for this organization. VolunQuest is irresponsible and unprofessional, the expectations for your personal life are clear -- that you have no personal life.

VolunQuest promises once-a-month VQ trips or bonding experiences, and the whole 4.5 months I was there we only went on a catamaran for the going-away party for the previous director. You will also be promised uniforms and we never once received such a thing.

Isla Mujeres is a beautiful place to give back to and live in, but please for your own good find another means of doing so. VolunQuest is a power-hungry, drama seeking organization and it is a shame they have a vision for a good cause yet they can't seem to walk the talk they advertise.

Please do your research. Nothing adds up and it seems pretty at first, but this is not a reputable or positive organization to "volunteer" for. If you want to be sure of these things, contact local businesses in Isla, and the reputation VolunQuest upholds on the island is not one to be admired. Be careful.

I was told over TEXT MESSAGE that I was being let go. VolunQuest needs to be investigated.

107 people found this review helpful.
Response from VolunQuest

Jessica, we are sorry to hear you had a negative experience as one our interns. We have had many interns complete this program who had a very positive and fulfilling experience, and we regret this was not the case. Other interns from your semester remained friends and often come to the island to visit, and one stayed for a year longer as the Director of Education because she too believed in our vision.

We would, however, like to address a few more of your concerns. As a VQ intern, there are rules and expectations within the contract that are different from a paid volunteer participant. Unfortunately, you did not get to participate in the final outing with the other interns because your intern contract was violated and terminated. There were political comments on your Facebook that were offensive to Mexican Nationals, which violates our social media policy because we are working in the Mexican public-school system. Also, we have had to add additional house rules due to the multiple conflicts with your roommates that arouse during your semester in the program, which related to your personal life outside of teaching.

We are unsure what you mean by power-hungry. VolunQuest does have rapport with all of the inhabitants of the island and the parents of our students, due to our multiple outreach campaigns and programs. As you learned, VolunQuest participants become sort of local celebrities, with parents and students often greeting and running up to the interns in public outside of the schools. However, this is only a byproduct of the work that we do here and in no way is our ultimate goal or mission. We like to think that the positive relationship that we have with the people in the community is a constant reminder of us doing a good job. Anyone who contacts local businesses in Isla Mujeres will quickly learn that we work with and are supported by a multitude of companies. We work with Barlitos, Marina Paraíso, Hotel Cha Chi, The Joint, Ruben’s, Chilito’s, Fayne’s, Lola Valentina, Madera Food and Art, Skulls Landing, Green Demon, Barracuda Skate, Everything Isla, Mundaca Real Estate, Pocna Dive Center, and Acción Isla, to name a few.

You were asked over text message to remove a Facebook post about building a wall between Mexico and the United States, which was the third warning in violation against your contract. Your first warnings happened when the teacher’s complained about mistreatment of the students. There was a one on one meeting with the president of VolunQuest, where she offered her support to work with you every day to help improve classroom management skills. The director asked you in person to please remove the social media post, and when that was refused, the contract was canceled. Upon termination, we provided housing and transport to the airport, made sure that you had everything that you needed to get home safely and did not charge you for your violated contract, even though we had the legal right to do so.

We understand that you are upset about being removed from the program, but we wish you the best in your future endeavors and hope that at some point you will reflect on your time with VolunQuest and take away something positive from the experience.

Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Beware, it is all a trap.

I wish I could say one nice thing about Volunquest. I ended up quitting Volunquest along with three other interns. They need to know how to treat their interns better. Volunquest is a revolving doors of interns because no one can stand working for them for too long. The housing conditions in Playa are horrible. They will tell you this is how everyone else lives, but it is all a lie. I went to other teachers houses and it is simply not the case. If more than one person has quit on you, then open your eyes and realize its not them, its you. No leadership quality. Respect is earned, not demanded. In all honestly, there are way better programs out there. I would rate Volunquest 0/10 or -10/10 if I could. In the long run, beware of this program. You will end up paying more for everything. You've been warned.

95 people found this review helpful.
Response from VolunQuest

Fabian, you were a member of the first group of interns to participate in our new Playa del Carmen project, which only operated one semester. VolunQuest always strives to create a mutually beneficial program for our interns, teachers and the students, and we did not feel that Playa del Carmen offered the same quality of experience as Isla Mujeres. For example, the schools that we were assigned to were too far away from the beaches and pleasures of Playa del Carmen, the neighborhoods did not have an internet provider, and we questioned the safety of our interns on a constant basis. Although we did our best to make the interns comfortable by purchasing all new furniture, appliances, hot water heaters, air conditioners, bed linens, etc. the lack of an internet provider and the neighborhoods did not match our ideals. As far as program costs, you were a scholarship recipient and paid no program fees.

When you started the program, you were very happy giving classes, socializing with members of the staff at the schools and we had a wonderful experience with you. As soon as we began training and following the National English Curriculum you refused to turn in even one lesson plan. You wanted to continue teaching the students colors and numbers, stating that they would learn more with your teaching strategies. As educators, we also sometimes feel that way. However, based on the contract that we have with the government, which allows us into the public schools to reach the students with the most need, we must follow the curriculum and turn in monthly reports. All of the staff at VolunQuest made themselves accessible to help in transitioning to follow the curriculum, but unfortunately you chose to leave.

The day that you left, you did not let anyone know, including your students. Although we do understand your frustrations with the program at the time because they are the same reasons that we decided to no longer operate in Playa del Carmen, we do not agree that an educator should leave their students without a goodbye. We wish that we could have provided a better experience for you, and although it would have been a challenge, it could have been a much more rewarding experience to stay and contribute rather than to quit the internship and leave the students. We hope that you have found another opportunity that you feel more comfortable in and we wish you the best of luck in everything. We are very appreciative of the first weeks that you were in the program, that you got to know the president’s family, participated in VolunQuest events in Isla Mujeres, and the love that you showed for your students.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible first time volunteering abroad!

VolunQuest is an incredible program offering a rewarding experience. Although I have traveled before on vacation, this was my first experience volunteering abroad. I was placed directly in a classroom in the public schools with welcoming teachers and adorable children eager to learn English. A teacher with VolunQuest works with you on lesson plans and stays in the classroom while you teach. The director and teachers with the program are all extremely helpful and work for the success of this program.

Additionally, Isla Mujeres is a gorgeous island. Although there are many tourists, the island still a "small town" feel, with friendly people and a strong sense of security. It's not uncommon to run into a few of your students and their families while exploring the island. The tropical weather and culture may take some time to adjust to however I strongly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things. My time on Isla Mujeres taught me so much about myself that I don't think I would've learned had I not gone on this trip.

What would you improve about this program?
I recommend going for more than 2 weeks. It took some time for me to adjust to teaching (I had never taught before this trip) and get to know all of my students. I feel that I could have done a lot more for the program and the students if I had been there longer.
93 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

VolunQuest is unlike any other Program out there!

This was my third time teaching abroad, and I chose VQ because my last two experiences made me feel more like a profit than a person. I was trained by the director of the program, which was shocking to me since I had never even once met the director of the other programs that I had volunteered for. On top of that, Zairy, my supervisor took me around to the different schools that I would observe her in on her own moped. They both really made me feel like I was a valuable member of the team, and were with me every step of the way.

The VQ offices are set up like a teacher's lounge. There is a refrigerator and microwave, a computer station, wifi, over 1500 early learner English books that you can check out for free to bring to the schools or home with you, school supplies, a printer, projector, pretty much anything that you might need to plan a lesson and carry it out. None of the other programs I had volunteered with in the past gave us free anything. I always had to pay for my own photo copies, art supplies, everything. I never even had supervision or proper training. VolunQuest is unique.

I have decided to extend my trip and stay longer with VQ, so I still haven't received my certificate from the Ministry of Education but I have seen one. They include the full name of the internationally recognized curriculum that I was trained in PNIEB, how many hours the volunteer worked in the public schools and signatures from the director of the program, the mayor of Isla Mujeres and the Secretary of Education for the state. I put one of my last experiences on my grad school application, and was actually questioned about it. The company that I went with was just a travel agency, so it did look nearly as credible (nor was it) as an official letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Education in Mexico.

Trust me, I've done it all. There is nothing in the world like VolunQuest. And apart from truly learning something valuable and making a real difference that you can see everyday, you'll be living in paradise. Isla Mujeres was voted top ten beaches in the world this year by Tripadvisor. They have just the right mix of local culture and modern comforts. The people are kind and welcoming, the food is amazing and cheap, and the nightlife can't be beat.

What would you improve about this program?
They could expand it to other parts of the world and Mexico. Even though Isla Mujeres is paradise, it would be so nice to be able to travel the world with a responsible organization like VQ. Until they do, I'll just have to keep coming back to this beautiful island.
89 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers